Last year, the most read article on the CWR site—by a notable margin—was a September 2013 blog post by Italian journalist Alessandra Nucci about Trappist nuns in Syria. This year, the most read article on the CWR site—by a notable margin—was Catherine Harmon’s August 20th post about the beheading of journalist James Foley, who had been kidnapped in Syria in 2012 and then murdered by radical Islamists.
Most surprising, I think, is that only one of these articles was about Francis—and that piece (#2), was about a satirical piece about the pope. Go figure. The Synod drew quite a bit of attention (#4 and #5), as did controversial topics such as homosexuality (#3 and #14), the LCWR (# 9), and Satan (#13). Pop culture also got some attention (#8 and #10).
Without further ado, here are the 14 most read CWR articles of the past twelve months.
1. “Slain journalist James Foley on praying the rosary in captivity” (Aug. 20, 2014), by Catherine Harmon. An excerpt from a piece that Foley had written for the alumni magazine of Marquette University, his alma mater, as well as news about the phone call made by Pope Francis to Foley’s family.
2. “Pope Francis just concluded Vatican III and declared ‘all religions are true’!” (Jan. 5, 2014), by Carl E. Olson. My mildly acerbic remarks on a satirical “news” piece about Francis, followed by some thoughts on the New York Times’ attempt to portray the Holy Father as “the Radical Pope”.
3. “Welcome To the Reign of ‘Gay'” (Apr. 8, 2014), by Carl E. Olson. My editorial for the month of April got some attention and cemented my status as “a hater” and a “homophobe.” Yawn. “Make no mistake,” I wrote, the Reign of Gay “has nothing to do with fun and games, and everything to do with the forced rationalization of grave depravity.”
4. “Cardinal Burke: Synod’s mid-term report ‘lacks a solid foundation in the Sacred Scriptures and the Magisterium'” (Oct. 14, 2014), by CWR Staff. The first of three CWR interviews with Cardinal Raymond Burke while the Extraordinary Synod was in session. “The faithful and their good shepherds,” he told CWR, “are looking to the Vicar of Christ for the confirmation of the Catholic faith and practice regarding marriage which is the first cell of the life of the Church.”
5. “Cardinal Burke to CWR: confirms transfer, praises pushback, addresses controversy over remarks by Cardinal Kasper” (Oct. 18, 2014), by CWR Staff. The second interview with Cardinal Burke, who addressed the remarks made by Cardinal Kasper about the African bishops: “It is profoundly sad and scandalous that such remarks were made by a Cardinal of the Church.”
6. “15 Lies at the Basis of Our Culture” (Jan. 31, 2014), by Fr. James V. Schall, SJ. “Each one of them, on examination, denies or violates a principle of reason or a fact of science. But they are all strenuously adhered to as “truth” because they allow us to do what we want.”
7. “Changing Catholic Attitudes about Cremation” (Nov. 3, 2012), by Jim Graves. Note that this article was written and published in 2012. The issues of funerals, burials, and cremation are, understandably, of great interest to a lot of people and, as the piece notes, the practice of cremation has been increasing among Catholics for several decades.
8. “Noah: A Theological Reflection” (Mar 28, 2014), by Steven D. Greydanus. “Darren Aronofsky’s controversial film is sometimes divisive and divided, but is also deeply serious about Scripture and essential questions.” Readers seem to have agreed about the “divisive and divided” part, but not the “deeply serious about Scripture and essential questions” part.
9. “The LCWR Doubles Down on Dissent” (Aug. 18, 2014), by Ann Carey. Stories about nuns and sisters are almost always popular. Stories about dissenting nuns and sisters are even more popular. It’s unfortunate, however, that such stories have to be written.
10. “The Worst Rapture Movie Ever Made” (Oct. 5, 2014), by Carl E. Olson. Suffering, it’s claimed, often produces the greatest art. In this case, suffering for 90 minutes produced one of my more humorous—yes, caustic!—pieces of the year. Some readers, however, thought that worse Rapture movies have been made. Who’s up for a Rapture MovieThon?
11. “Emma Watson’s Empty Performance at the U.N.” (Sept. 30, 2014), by Tessa Bowman. When Tessa sent me a note asking if someone was going to write something about the actress Watson’s September 20th U.N. address, I said, “Why not you?” Proof that passing the buck can sometimes be an inspired decision.
12. “Mysticism, Monasticism, and the New Evangelization” (Apr. 4, 2014), by Abbot Nicholas Zachariadis and Benjamin Mann. “The New Evangelization requires a rediscovery of Christian mysticism,” the authors explain, “and a revival of the monastic setting which is its natural home.”
13. “Satan, Sin, and Sociology” (Jan. 25, 2014), by Anne Hendershott. Seriously now, how could such an alliterative and strange title not prove popular?
14. “Why Is Gay Not Okay?” (May 27, 2014), by Carl E. Olson. My interview with Robert R. Reilly, author of Making Gay Okay: How Rationalizing Homosexual Behavior Is Changing Everything. “Compassion does not trump truth,” said Reilly, “And the truth is becoming harder to tell.” No argument here! But we’ll keep on doing our best.